Apr 30, 2010 11:45am
Re: Staff Requests Suggestions for 'Spotliight Item'
Downloadable audience recording:http://www.archive.org/details/gd1988-07-29.schoeps.litzenberger.watson.86255.sbefail.flac16
This was one of only five times the Dead played at Laguna Seca Raceway. This must have been a fantastic place to see a show, because of the gorgeous surroundings and the campgrounds right on site at the venue.
This show was in the middle of an extremely prolific period for the Dead. Jerry was healthy and strong, and Brent was really coming into his own, adding so much to each and every show. The first set opened with a nice, laid back Iko Iko, featuring some interesting sound effects on Jerry's vocals and great organ fills and solos from Brent. This is a nice, always unexpected first set opener and is a good indicator of some unusual song selection for the show ahead.
Bobby gives us a Walkin' Blues next.
Jerry picks up the mike again for Candyman, always a treat. He mixes up some lyrics in the first verse but recovers nicely. Nice harmonies on the refrain. The first lead break is really nice. Jerry's vocals are strong here early in the show. The song builds up to a powerful crescendo at the last verse, overall a great version.
Next song is Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately, one of my favorites in this position from Bobby. I was always so happy so see this instead of those cowboy double shots we got so often. Nice harmonies from Jerry and Brent, and some great support solos from them as well.
Jerry's up again next with Althea. A few more confused lyrics in the first verse, not too bad though. Great soloing after the bridge is the highlight here.
Brent takes over with an early version of one of my favorites of his original tunes, Blow Away. This is definitely an early version, only the fourth time played, with none of the backup vocals from the rest of the band that really added alot to this song. It's interesting to hear, though, and shows how this song evolved and really improved over the next couple of years. Phil comments after this song how the band seems to take longer in between songs than they used to and gets a rise out of the crowd.
Cassidy is next, pretty standard version here. This is just a great song, and I really never got tired of hearing it. Always a nice opportunity for Phil and Jerry to take off after the "faring thee well now" verse, and it never gets old listening to the whole band come back from the outer reaches to join together in unison for "flight of the seabirds." Probably in my top five favorite Bob Weir tunes of all time.
Deal closes the first set, which was always a crowd pleaser. There's a really nice, long, high-energy jam after the verses to end the set. Overall, while not a killer first set, definitely nothing to complain about.
Set two picks things up significantly. It opens up with a jammy but leisurely paced China Cat Sunflower. Jerry sounds great vocally and as usual for this song, there's some real fine interplay between his and Bobby's guitar work. There's a nice long jam at the end of verse three that sounds like a leisurely jaunt into the standard Rider, but tonight Jerry has other plans. He noodles for a bit before blowing everyones mind and smoothly transitioning into Crazy Fingers! The band is right with him and its a really nice version. The vocals are very strong, and while there's really no jamming, it's still really sweet considering what a surprise it is for everyone. After this great diversion from tradition the band transitions right back into the I Know You Rider jam and into the song. It's such a refreshing change and it really is a shame that the boys didn't mix up this classic pairing more often. This kind of surprise is a great example of why seeing the Grateful Dead was always such a fantastic experience for me. There always was the potential for some crazy magic flying in out of left field at any given show.
The set doesn't slow down as they go right from Rider into one of the best versions of Playin' In the Band since the truly amazing versions from 1972. This Playin' is so good it is featured on the Grateful Dead box set retrospective "So Many Roads." Brent and Bobby sing together and their interplay is really wonderful here. The instrumental is superb, with creative and imaginative soloing from Phil and Jerry following the verses. The fun continues as the jam takes off into some serious weirdness, before coalescing back into the reprise and transitioning into Drums>Space, which contains some nice easy going jamming along with the usual explosive moments of terror.
Jerry brings us out of space with one of my all time favorites, The Wheel. The intro to this song on Jerry's first solo album "Garcia," is probably my favorite guitar work ever done on any recording. Just hauntingly beautiful and melodic. The version from this show is practically flawless, but I've yet to hear a live version that captures the magic of that studio release. There's a couple from 1976 that come close.
Phil and Brent take control of the mike with a pretty rocking Gimmie Some Lovin'. Great guitar jams, organ music, and some serious Phil bombs highlight this tune.
Jerry graces us with a rarity for the next tune, Believe It Or Not. This was played only seven times by the Dead. This song always reminds me of the JGB tune Gomorrah, I guess because of the signature little guitar run after each verse that is pretty similar. This version is as good as any of the few we saw, flawless.
Sugar Magnolia ends the second set. Jerry and Brent are all over this tune tonight.
The band encores with Jerry's Black Muddy River. Nice version, not much different than any other one. Jerry sounds a bit tired here, but it's been a long, hot night. This was a great song, consistently effective and evocative. Not my favorite encore, I agree with Phil when he expressed the sentiment in his autobiography that this tune was kind of a bummer to end a show with.